West Virginia may be a trendy pick to compete for the Big 12 title in 2018, but the advance numbers aren’t as bullish on the Mountaineers.
The latest S&P+ projections from SB Nation’s Bill Connelly have West Virginia winning 6.2 games in 2018. The reason? Connelly explains that because of depth issues, there is a lot of possible variance in the Mountaineers’ record this year.
From SB Nation:
S&P+ sees two pretty likely losses (24 percent win probability against OU, 29 percent at OSU) and two likely wins (82 percent vs. Kansas, 90 percent vs. Youngstown State). The other eight games are projected within 7.1 or fewer points. A team with Grier, Sills, etc., could survive just fine — the Mountaineers had won three straight one-possession finishes when Grier went down, after all.
Because of depth and this ridiculous schedule, there might not be a more mysterious team in the country than WVU. Theoretically, 3-9 and 10-2 are on the table.
The Mountaineers have been a popular dark horse pick to win the Big 12, in part because quarterback Will Grier is considered one the conference’s top contenders for the Heisman. However, S&P+ isn’t the first analytics system to question West Virginia’s potential. ESPN FPI gives the Mountaineers just a 2.3 percent chance of winning the conference.
If West Virginia can stay healthy and Grier can lead the team to fulfill its high potential on offense, the S&P+ projection may look foolish in hindsight. But if Grier disappoints and the defense fails to improve on its disappointing performance last season, bowl eligibility might not be a sure thing.